Thursday, October 31, 2013

What To Do with Halloween Candy Besides Eat It

Happy Halloween!  I hope you all are having fun despite the crazy buzz of excitement and sugar rushes that come with this holiday.  Today I'm posting a fun way to use up some of your students candy besides consume it.  CandyExperiments has simple science experiments you can do with some of the excessive treats that kids collect.  Here are five of my favorite experiments...

1) Chocolate Bloom--students expose their chocolate bars to different temperatures and see what happens when the ingredients start to separate.

2) Life Saver Sparks--students eat life savers in the dark in front of a mirror and watch what happens.

3) Candy Bar Bath--students test candy bars to see which sink and which float.  Then they predict why.

4) Harvesting S's and M's--students pull the letters off of Skittles and M&M's.

5) Hidden Sugars--students learn to read labels and, hopefully, rethink some of their food choices.

This could be done in class or sent home as an experiment.  I doubt many parents would mind seeing the candy being used for the sake of education instead of tooth decay!

Have fun.  Be safe.  Let us know if you try it and how it goes.  We'd love to hear your feedback.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fabulous Friday Freebies: More than 150 freebie compilation!

Below is a list of more than 150 free teaching resources! There is plenty for each age level and subject area. Enjoy!

Fall Themed Freebies

 Winter Themed Freebies

Spring Themed Freebies

Summer Themed Freebies

Year Round Freebies

 Free Lesson Related Freebies

 Freebies Just for Teachers

Monday, October 21, 2013

Introduction to Spanish Gold Mine of Materials!

Check out Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  There you'll find a number of printable Spanish activities at reasonable prices to use for centers, exams, quizzes, homework, class work, sub plans, etc.  Five of the top ten sellers in the store are Spanish activities.  With a 4.0 rating, you can expect quality resources.    

The activities include Spanish Centers: Introductory Unit, Spanish Centers: Greetings, Spanish Centers: Los Numeros, an 80 page compilation of activities, and much, much more (including 5 brand new activities).

Everything comes with answer keys and/or rubrics.   Don't reinvent the wheel, creating activities.  Check it out today!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fabulous Friday Freebies: Educational Halloween Freebies!

Halloween will be in a few short weeks! Do you have a costume picked out? If not, check out our suggestions of Halloween costumes for teachers

To help you celebrate Halloween in your classroom, here are some fabulous Halloween freebies you can use to make your teaching a little scarier than usual this year!

Just as described, here is monster sized list of Halloween projects. There are enormous amount of ideas of things you and your students can make for some hands on fun this fall.

Want to do something that involves pumpkins this year but you're not sure what? KinderArt has a list of 100 ideas of things that you can do with a pumpkin. Each idea is unique so there is a little something for everyone there!

Cybraryman has a huge compilation of Halloween related resources. For younger kids there are math worksheets, Spelloween links, experiments, crafts and more. For older kids there are also fun links such as a Salem With Trials Jeopardy game, trivia games and more. There is something for just about every school subject so I'm sure that you will find something useful here!

If you are interested in cultures from around the world, check out how they celebrate Halloween by looking at Jack O' There are links to help you find more about Halloween around the world including celebrations in Mexico, Spain, China and more. 

Shelly Terrell has a list of 18 educational Halloween apps. Not every app suggested is free but most are. Do you use apps in your classroom?

Enjoy this list! If you have a Halloween freebie please share it with us in the comments and I will feature it in a future Halloween freebie post!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Make It Memorable

One of the best pieces of advice I've read lately is to make lessons memorable.  It's so obvious and yet easy to forget when planning a lesson.  There are so many things teachers are supposed to do these days: backwards map, use TAPS, include all learning styles, differentiate, align with the common core, use SMART goals, check for understanding, make lessons culturally relevant, hit all levels of Bloom's taxonomy and the list goes on and on.  So, making it memorable is not always easy to do, nor is it always at the forefront of our mind when planning.  But, when I read those three simple words I thought, right.  This is definitely worth putting in the forefront of my mind when planning.

How does one do that?  Well, here are a top ten list of lessons my students have discussed later because they were memorable:

1) Take them on a field trip.  I take my students to a restaurant to practice ordering food in Spanish.  They are still talking about it the next year.

2) Have them teach the lesson themselves.  Students who can teach it really know it and will be much slower to forget.

3) Incorporate humor.  Some of our strongest memories are tied to strong emotions.  I'm not suggesting that we make our students scared or sad, but making them happy and relaxed enough to laugh will put them in a good mental state.

4) Catch them by surprise.  Want them to practice writing using imagery?  Drop a fish on their desk and have them write with imagery about that.

5) Make it hands on.  Most lesson plans focus on teaching through seeing and hearing, but forget about our kinesthetic learners.  Incorporate all three and they'll remember it better.

6) Put it to music.  I use a song to teach students to conjugate.  They never forget it.

7) Use memory tricks.  Students who are taught using acronyms and sayings usually remember them years later.  Colors of the rainbow?  ROY G BIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).  Order of operations?  Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally (parenthesis, exponent, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction).

8) Go deep instead of wide.  Give it time to sink in.

9) Include all of the senses.  See number 4!  Later this month I'm planning on turning my class room into an tavern/inn when students tell stories Canterbury Tales style, complete with bottles of (root)beer.  My attempt at creating memories.

10) Change up the routine.  The routine is forgettable.  Throwing them a curveball will make a lesson stand out.

Have ideas of your own?  Please share!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Fall Art Packet for Early Finishers Available!

I recently added a new fall packet to my store, a Fall Fast/Early Finishers Art Activities Pack! This pack contains 25 printable fall drawing activities for the fast or early finishers in your classroom.

If you have students that enjoy drawing in your classroom, this might be the ideal fit. Each page can be printed in black and white or color and contain a fall related drawing activity. Information about artists and art terms is also included as well as all information such as fall holidays from around the world.

This packet is based off of my best seller, my pack of 50 year round Fast Finishers Art Activities.


To see more of this pack, please download my preview. All of the pages are easy to print and only require a pencil and something to add color with, such as colored pencils or markers.

I gave all Facebook fans a special deal on this product when it was first published. To get more special deals like my page!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fabulous Freebies: Cool Web Tools

These are all websites I've enjoyed using with my students.  If the description sounds interesting, click on the image to be taken to the website and investigate more!

1) This is a website that generates bingo cards.  You can choose from their list of themed cards or use your own word lists to make your own printable cards.

2) Animoto is a website where you can create short digital movies.  Just upload pictures of your class and let them generate a mini movie of a trip you took, a special project, etc.  Then you can share it with your students and their families in school or via email.

3) Use the website ToonDoo to allow your students to create their own comic strips.  They can create one based on a story they read in class or make up their own.  They really enjoy working with this website.

4) This is the newest one to me.  It is a coloring page generator.  I recently used it to create a one-of-a-kind coloring book of memories.  Use it to make a momento from a fun class trip.

5) This is a site that I've used to have students create fun plot summaries of stories.  They can go online and create their own cartoons with captions, characters, settings, etc.

6) This one is a fabulous online archive of pictures from Life magazine.  This is a great way to introduce famous people and events from history.  Create a gallery walk that allows students to see and develop a context for the content before studying it.

7) The last one is another new discovery for me.  It is a list of really cool virtual tours.  I was able to show my students a spectacular 360 degree view of Machu Picchu.  I found a site with a live feed from a nature preserve in the Sahara.  This page is definitely worth checking out and using with your students.

To see a list of 30 other free online resources, check out my pinterest page of Websites Useful to Teachers.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Halloween Costume Ideas for Teachers

Today I am re-posting an article from last year since this is the right time to start creating a Halloween costume. There are a few new ideas I added in for this year so check it out.

I realize that not every school allow or encourages their staff to dress in costume during Halloween or other holidays. However, if you ARE at a school that allows their staff to dress in costume, there are plenty of fun ways you can still teach your students with what you're wearing! Here are some costume ideas perfect for teachers that love to dress up.

This is me in my favorite teacher costume! I am an art teacher so of course I had to do something artistic and so I made myself into a painting. It was a very affordable costume which cost nothing since all I needed was a large piece of cardboard and paint (which I already have). Even though some students have already seen that costume I keep it around each year since students always get a kick out of it.

Here are some other ideas for perfect teacher costumes! has several suggestions of Halloween costumes for different teachers. For literacy teachers, you could dress like a character in a book your students are reading. Social studies or foreign language teachers could dress up from a certain culture or time period. has a cute article on making a book fairy costume. This could be perfect for a literacy teacher, librarian, or elementary school teacher.

Everyday Living Everyday has a post about some teachers that dressed up as school supplies for Halloween. They made their own costumes and it looks great!

Become a pumpkin pi like this guy here! It looks relatively easy to make and it's not a full body costume.

How about making yourself a Facebook costume? Love this play on words! sells costumes that would be perfect for teachers but I think that many of these ideas could easily be made with either things you have around the house or with a simple trip to a used clothing store. A Sherlock Holmes costume could be easily put together or a Where's Waldo? costume as well. To create the classic stripes you could paint red acrylic strips on a white shirt.

What does your school do for Halloween? Please let us know in the comments below.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spanish Speaking Games

There are a couple activities that I use to engage my students in the practice of speaking Spanish.  They are a couple games that take me out of middle of the conversation and get them interacting in the target language with each other.  Not only that, but they have fun while doing it.  If you are looking for a way to get your students talking, check out the activities below:

1) Rey del Mundo is a free instruction sheet for a fast paced game that gets students dialoguing in the target language.

2) Human Bingo is an activity that prepares and requires students to dialogue in Spanish.  It is easily adapted, though, to any second language classroom.  It also helps students in the class get to know each other better!  Check it out at my store.  $$

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fabulous Teacher Freebies to Fill Your Mailbox - Part 3!

Here is part three in our series dedicated to get you get educational freebies delivered to your home in your mailbox!  If you missed part 1 or part 2, please check them out and your mailbox will be filled shortly.

Get a free sun safety tool kit from the EPA for your classroom! Each kit contains over 50 cross-curricular activities and a free UV sensitive frisbee. Kits are recommended from grades K-8. Different schools and teachers may get different kits so check out the form as you request your kit for more information.

Get free seeds and begin growing plants in your classroom from You can select which seeds you would like to receive. How should you grow your plants? Check out these 15 ways to grow plants in your classroom for some great ideas!

Hey it's free! has a list with accurate links to each of the 50 states to request a paper state map. Most all of these links are through the state tourism office so you will also receive tourist info about your selected state.

The Youth for Human Rights offers a free kit for educators to help your students understand human rights. If you apply for this freebie, they do ask for you to provide them with feedback on the materials provided. The kit includes a booklet and DVD.

Milk offers a wide range of freebies dedicated to the benefits of milk. Freebies include brochures, fact sheets, posters, buttons, stickers and more! You can easily select which freebies you would like and the quantity you need.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Best Advice I've Ever Received about Teaching Grammar in High School

The best advice I've ever received when it comes to grammar instruction is to: teach it for five minutes a day, follow a cumulative pacing chart and use activities that mirror the ACT.  The pacing chart is roughly as follows:

End Punctuation
Subject/Verb Agreement
Commas and colons
Dashes and semicolons
Sentence fragments
Run-on sentences
Verbs and adverbs
Verbs and tenses
Parallel structure
Nouns and pronouns
Sentence structure

Many of the topics above have multiple rules, and are therefore, taught over the course of several weeks.  Every fifth week the rules that weren't mastered are retaught and students are reassessed as needed.  All together, these skills are stretched out over the course of about 35 weeks.

On Mondays students go over the grammar rules for that week and see examples.  On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays they complete short 3-4 question activities like the one pictured below.  These activities have short excerpts from real texts on the left with mechanics mistakes.  On the right are three to four questions with four multiple choice options that correlate to underlined and numbered sections of the passage on the left (just like the English portion of the ACT.  There are  four options and students choose the correct one.  Their work is graded immediately and the rules are reviewed when the class goes over the answers.  On Fridays students are quizzed on the rules for that week.

In addition to review weeks, students are reviewing all the rules they've been taught so far as they appear repeatedly in the weekly ACT-like exercises.  (For example, the first few weeks I have them practice capitalization rules.  The fourth week, I have them practice capitalization and end punctuation.  The fifth week is review.  The sixth week I have them practice capitalization, end punctuation and subject/verb agreement.  And so on and so forth.)  Also, once a rule has been taught, I expect them to apply it when they write.  They must recognize their mistakes and self correct their errors when they edit their papers.

So, why is this the best advice I've ever received?  The first is that you can teach grammar for the first five minutes of class, and it doesn't take over your lessons.  Secondly, students feel successful because it starts with the easy skills and proceeds cumulatively.  Finally, it has been proven to raise students' English ACT scores by several points.

Well, there you have it.  This is one of my best secrets.  I hope that you find it useful too.  If you have any questions, let me know!

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